Common Care Questions

Size Matters

If the difference in your plant collection is a matter of size, you’ll want to make sure your small and big plants are getting the care they need. Read on and get sized up.

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Think of your plants like children. Babies need a lot more attention than teenagers. It’s a common misconception that smaller plants are easier to take care of. Smaller plants, like babies, need more attention than larger plants do. Perhaps it’s the intimidation factor of a large plant that makes it seem more labor intensive, but in fact, larger plants are easier to care for. It’s about establishment, resources, and soil size.


Larger plants are more established in that they have bigger roots and bigger shoots, and are more anchored into their place. These plants have many leaves, and in the event of stress, can afford to lose a few whereas smaller plants cannot. Larger plants also have the a large store of resources to draw from to grow and withstand periods of stress. This reserve of energy and nutrients gives you a buffer zone of time to act before the stress does damage to the plant. Smaller plants react immediately because they do not have energy or nutrient reserves to fight the stress.


The volume of the soil will greatly affect watering, as the soil is where the water goes. Smaller volumes of soil have a greater surface area (SA) : volume (V) ratio. The greater the SA:V ratio is, the greater the ability of water to evaporate from the soil. This, of course, leads to the soil drying out faster. Smaller plants will dry out significantly faster than larger plants, even if it’s the same type of plant. Let’s say we have some mini succulents of 1-2” pot diameter size. They will need to be watered about once a week, depending on the light that they are getting. Their larger, 4” succulent counterparts can withstand up to 2-4 weeks without water. Why? They are bigger and can store more water, and their soil can hold more water.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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